Just after my mother died, we discovered a sprial bound journal in which she had written a diary of some of her feelings when she was first diagnosed with cancer and started chemotherapy. She was not a consistent writer and she never mentioned it to us; perhaps she had forgotten about it.
The writing is raw and personal, covering her thoughts on cancer, her hysterectomy and chemotherapy. It is weird to read it because it shows a more vulnerable and emotional side than my mother would normally demonstrate. I've had the diaries sitting on my desk for several weeks and I've just not been able to face them. But as I read them today, I felt a closer connection to my mother andthe overwhelming feelings she was going through.
Here are a few excerpts:
April 29, 1999 - Hysterectomy
This is my journal, so Ibelieve I can swear all I want to. Today we saw Dr. Manus (chemo) -- overwhelming-- 3 hrs there -- I feel that I had no control over what is happening. Would like to run away & hide. Linda called -- we both cried. Somehow I have to get this together and just think of today. I'm sorry for Bob. I know all this brings back memories of his mom.
May 25, 1999
I think that I will soon wake up & have had a bad dream! This would have been so much easier if it had been beningn. Walking 2x around the block -- not a lot of energy. Tomorrrow I begin chemo w/ some fear & yet anxious to get on w/ it.
Bob has been so good -- we decided this AM that we would just pretend we got back from Paris & no phone calls from Dr Bowles! Right!!
Patti wanted me to come to last day of Orlando Women's Golf today, but I am not too good w/ a lot of people. I would probably start blubbering. Last time I played at TMC I had an 80! Next year I'll beat that. I can practive my putting in the hall & I know it will pay off! Tim told me I should get more strokes because I have cancer.
Cameron (night hawk) is being crazy baby again. Cries 4 a while then "bombs away" in his diapers... Gets in rocker w/ light on & reads book -- Kelly rocks him again at 10pm & off he goes. He is trying, but funny. When he gets on the phone he sings "Happy BD" -- there isn't a word you would recognize unless you heard it a few times -- but he repeats same each time.
June 2, 1999
Had first chemo on Weds May 26. Put in port on Thurs 27th. At first I thought I was home free, re reaction as wed night just tummy ache for a few hrs... Friday am the abdominals searing pains started. Worse on Sat. & Sunday -- exhausted -- tylox didn't touch it. Nausea was not helped w/ pill. Sunday pulse started racing 120. Called Dr on call Mon for same thing -- he was more concerned w/ the sharp pain (by this time pain had stopped). It was anxiety or this poor old bod trying to recover. I could not do this again unless we could control pain. I feel like one thing gets functioning a little better, something else goes!
June 3, 1999
First day of normalcy. No muscle aches, no nausea. I even vacuumed a bit and felt good.
June 8, 1999
A good past few days. Sometimes I even forget I have cancer. Bob and I played 9 holes yesterday. Felt a little sore last night. Orland Womens played a pro-am tournament here today -- felt some resentment that I couldn't be there. Also a little sad --my hair has started! Patti, Linda, Joan came over after playing -- good to see them.
June 9, 1999
A C- day. Hair falling out -- tried on wigs. Short w/ Bob!
June 14, 1999
Yesterday boys' BD. Feeling low -- probably the hair loss. Will look 4 wig today. Doris gave me a cute short one. They are still hot and uncomfortable.
June 15, 1999
Feeling tense about chemo tomorrow (fear).
June 17, 1999
Long day at chemo yesterday. Feel great. No side effects. I feel more acceptance for my cancer. At the beginning I thought mostly about dying & where else the cancer would show up. Now I mostly feel that we will get thru this ok. It's fun to wash your hair w/ a washcloth!
June 19, 1999
Feeling wiped. Guess the chemo is doing its job. Hate looking at my bald head. Have a rash on head. Energy gone!
July 1, 1999
Dr. Malmus says I have "garden variety" cancer. Blood good. 2 wks on -- 2 weeks off. Sometimes I have tremendous fear re future (cancer). Other times -- very calm -- I know I have no control over this and that is frightening. Wish I had more energy.
July 8, 1999 Chemo
Shorter time, but seemed longer. I didn't know any of the patients, so I missed out connecting. Some days up some days down-- try to live in the moment.
July 10, 1999
Chemo has been easy this time -- lots of energy. I feel strongly that everything will be ok. Que sera, sera.
July 12, 1999
Feel strange today -- tough to stay positive. I feel afraid at times that this may spread. I need to stay focused on the "now." Had a beautiful card from Kelly today. Very supportive & made me cry.
July 16, 1999
Yesterday chemo. Whole digestive system messed up. Hope tomorrow will be better.
July 26, 1999
2 bad days -- upset w/ appearance -- moon face & cone head. Most days it doesn't bother me. Last 2 days it has me crying, listless & pissed.
August 26, 1999
Chemo side effects have been minimal. I fluctuate between accceptance & fear. The fear is to get so sick that someone helps you move etc. Sometimes happens when I see very sick patients at MD Anderson.
September 9, 1999
Feeling really down. Keep thinking this has been a bad dream & I'll wake up & be fine. Will have chemo tomorrow.
September 13, 2000
Well it has been a long time since I have been here! Last 6 wks have been shitty. CA 125 -- will find out Sept 20 what this one was (208). Not even a year since I finished chemo! Don't feel any "why me" just am angry -- weepy. Won't see my grand kids graduate or get married. Had scary feelings. So mixed up. God doesn't feel very close.
October 14, 2000
I hate coming here just to write feelings of hopelessness. Because most days I feel like me and have good laughs.
We have just finished a Women Playing for T.I.M.E tournament for MD Anderson. It was extremely sad at times. There were stirring comments on Sheila -- all of us were in tears. Elaine was so strong & Sheila's husband & daughter read some of Sheila's notes. Her thoughts & feelings were so positive and she seemed so much at peace with herself. She had told her grandson that whenever he saw a dragonfly it would remind him of her. We received one in our "goody bag." So I have it in my bedroom so I can see it all the time & think of Sheila and her strength and hope that some will rub off on me.
We raised $500,000 this year for T.I.M.E. I really think the cure is close & I want them to work on Ovarian cancer now!! Looking forward to Xmas w/ Karen & Mark, Brianna & Faith, Mark & Gregg may get here as well.
I keep hoping that this cancer will make me a better person. I seeem to be a slow learner re attitudes, people that I don't like etc. I should be able to let them be as they are & drop it. Easier to say!